Tokens for the Foundlings

Tony Curtis
Publication Date: 
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
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Carol Rumens's poem of the week 'Coram's Cloth' by Tony Curtis (Guardian online 30th April 2012)

"...a delightful, moving anthology..." - The Tablet

Tokens for the Foundlings is an anthology of poetry about childhood published for the benefit of the Foundlings Museum in London, with royalties paid to it. The museum, established by tradesman and ship owner Thomas Coram in 1739 with the support of Hogarth and Handel, was both the first orphanage in Britain and the first public art gallery. It has an ongoing programme of art exhibitions and other events, an educational programme and has an art collection which includes Hogarth and Gainsborough (another supporter) and a collection of manuscripts, books and libretti by Handel.

The book is divided into three sections concerning orphans and foundlings, infancy, and early childhood and includes poems by Gillian Clarke, Carol Ann Duffy, Helen Dunmore, Stephen Knight, Don Paterson, Elaine Feinstein, Dannie Abse, Seamus Heaney, David Harsent, Carol Rumens, Kate Bingham, Michael Longley and George Szirtes among many other, all of whom have donated their work.

Childhood and parenting are enduring themes for poets and Tokens of the Foundlings offers a unique entry into these subjects through moving and beautiful poems. The foreword is by author and journalist Daisy Goodwin, and the book's cover features a Foundlings museum artwork by Tracey Emin. This book is to be launched at the museum, and events are planned at a number of literary festivals around Britain.

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Review from The Tablet

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Tokens for the Foundlings is a delightful, moving anthology which circles around the theme of London's Foundling Hospital in Coram's Fields, that great and humane institution, founded in the eighteenth century by Thomas Coram, where destitute mothers could bring their babes in the hope - not always fulfilled because means, alas, were limited - that they would be cared for. Even today, when it is a museum which serves as a kind of haunting memorial to the great good that it did, it is a heart-rending place to visit. So this book of poems by many hands, which has been judiciously edited by that fine Welsh poet Tony Curtis, seems inhabit the human space of that hospital, circling the themes of children and their habits, parenting, loss an reclamation.
Contributors range from excellent poets who deserve to be better known to those who are very well known indeed - the likes of Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Duffy, Ruth Padel and many others.

The Tablet 20th October 2012

22/10/2012 - 11:10